Where to Mail Tax Returns, Tax Payments, and Extensions to the IRS

A Guide to Mailing If You Can't E-file Your Tax Return

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It's usually best to go the extra mile when you're dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, even if it feels like a nuisance and it seems like a waste of time. Always use a secure method to send your documents, such as certified mail, return receipt requested, when you're snail-mailing tax returns and other documents to the IRS. This ensures that you'll receive confirmation that the IRS has actually received your documents or payment. E-filing is virtually foolproof as well.

The "Postmark Rule"

Much is made of the "postmark rule"—the one that provides that the IRS doesn't actually have to have your return in hand on the due date as long as you got it in the mail on time. It's true, although there are one or two other minor rules that go hand-in-hand with this one.

Of course, the envelope must be addressed correctly and bear sufficient postage. If so, the postmark date is the one you should go by, not the day the IRS actually receives the mail. The date of the registration is the postmark date if you use registered mail, and the date on the receipt is the postmark date if you use certified mail and have the receipt stamped by a postal employee.

Where to Mail Your Personal Tax Return 

The IRS has more addresses than you might imagine because its processing centers are located all around the country. Imagine the chaotic deluge that would result if every single taxpayer in the U.S. sent their return to a single location.

The address you'll use depends on what you're mailing and where you live. Go to the "Where to File" page on the IRS.gov website if you're sending a personal tax return, an amended return, or if you're asking for an extension of time to file. The page includes a link for every state. Click on the state where you live and you'll land on a page showing addresses for filing various tax returns.

Now all you have to do is match the document you're filing to the correct address for that particular paperwork.

These addresses are current for 2019 tax returns mailed in 2020. It's always a good idea to check back in future years, however, to make sure that nothing has changed because these addresses do change periodically.

The Addresses Can Change

One such change occurred in 2018 for 2017 tax returns submitted by residents of Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Do not automatically send your 2019 tax return to the same place you sent it in years prior to 2018 if you live in one of these states. The addresses are not the same. Review the instructions that are provided with your tax return. The most recent, correct address should appear there. Better yet, check the IRS "Where to File" page for the most up-to-date information.

About Those Zip Codes

Don't be concerned if you notice that the zip codes don't match up with those of other addresses in each location. Always use the ones given. The IRS more or less has its own zip codes to help sort incoming mail.

The address for mailing a 1040 might be identical to the one you'd use to mail another form...except for the last three digits of the zip code. This is what differentiates incoming mail for the IRS. 

If You're Sending Money

Another interesting wrinkle is that the mailing address usually changes depending on whether you're submitting a payment with your return.

In almost all cases, you would mail returns with payments to the Internal Revenue Service, and mail returns without payments to the Department of the Treasury. Yes, that seems backward. Wouldn't the Treasury be the place to send your money? But tax rules aren't always logical or simple. 

Other Tax Forms

The addresses can also be different if you're filing something other than your personal tax return. For example, estimated payments and Form 1040-ES, amended returns, and IRS Form 4868 for tax extensions all have their own individual addresses so check your IRS state page accordingly. 

Mailing a Business Tax Return 

You can find the proper mailing address for various business tax forms at the following websites:   

Go to the Where to File Tax Returns page at IRS.gov for other types of tax forms and use the name or number of the form to find the appropriate mailing address.

How to Mail Tax Returns If You Live Outside the U.S.

You can send your tax return or payment using the United States Postal Service if you're mailing from inside the U.S., but consider using a private delivery service otherwise, especially if you want proof that your tax return was sent on time.

This will also help you to avoid any glitches with international mail.

The IRS will accept the "sent on" date on envelopes forwarded using Federal Express or United Parcel Service, just as it does with U.S. mail, but you must use one of the approved classes of service for UPS, FedEx, or DHL Express.

  • Federal Express (FedEx): Use Priority Overnight Standard Overnight, 2 Day, International Priority, International First, First Overnight, International First Next Flight Out, or International Economy.
  • United Parcel Service (UPS): Use Next Day Air, Next Day Air Saver, 2nd Day Air, 2nd Day Air A.M., Worldwide Express Plus, Worldwide Express, or Next Day Air Early AM.
  • DHL Express: Use DHL Express, DHL Express Worldwide, DHL Express Envelope, DHL Import Express, or Import Express Worldwide.

International taxpayers often mail their returns to the Austin, Texas service center, but the address where you should send your return might differ depending on your situation. You can check by using the Where to File Tax Returns, Addresses Listed by Return Type IRS site. First find the city where your tax return should be sent, then look up the street address for that service center. 

When You're Mailing Multiple Tax Returns

Consider placing each in its own envelope if you're mailing two or more tax returns to the IRS at the same time, then place each of those envelopes into a larger envelope. Mail the larger envelope to the IRS by certified mail, return receipt requested. When the IRS opens the larger envelope, it will immediately and easily be able to sort each of your tax documents separately. 

Hand-Delivering Your Return 

You can hand deliver your return to a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center if you really want to make sure the IRS gets it without a problem and there's one nearby to your location. Just keep in mind that IRS TAC offices require that you make an appointment.

Ask the IRS agent for a stamped receipt. The agent will make a photocopy of the first page of your tax return and stamp the photocopy with an IRS "received" mark. Keep this receipt with your records as proof that the IRS has your tax return.

Or Just Do It the Easy Way—File Electronically

E-filing tax returns is easier than ever these days and, in fact, the IRS really hopes you do. It doesn't want to be inundated with mountains of paperwork like in the old days.

Most tax preparation software will take care of e-filing for you with a simple click of your mouse. You actually have to go through additional steps if you want to or have to print out your return and mail it in for some reason because e-filing is the default.

You might also qualify for the Free File program if your income was less than $69,000 in 2019. Free Form is a partnership between the IRS and several of the leading tax software providers. Choose a provider and it will prepare and e-file your return for you at no charge if you qualify.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program will also help you prepare and e-file your return if you qualify.

You can also make many tax payments online using IRS Direct Pay

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "Publication 17 (2018), Your Federal Income Tax." Accessed Feb. 15, 2020.

  2. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). "Where to File Paper Tax Returns With or Without a Payment." Accessed Feb. 15, 2020.

  3. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). "International - Where to File Addresses For Taxpayers and Tax Professionals." Accessed Feb. 15, 2020.

  4. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). "Contact Your Local IRS Office." Accessed Feb. 15, 2020.

  5. IRS. "Electronic Filing Options for Individuals." Accessed Feb. 15, 2020.